The recent flood of very well thought-out mock drafts here on BTB has inspired me - my very first post was a response the Mock Draft challenge posted a couple weeks ago, in fact. So, with the combine drawing near and looking to find something football-related to do that does not involve complaining about the CBA stalemate, I decided to draw up two scenarios that could get us some big infusions of talent and hopefully minimize any reliance on a free agency period that may not even happen this year.
The first scenario is one commonly cited on mock drafts here - a trade down with the Chargers. The Chargers have already shown themselves to be willing to be aggressive in going after a player if they want to; they did move up 16 spots to take Ryan Matthews last year. And there are quite a few players that could be sitting there at #9 that would be attractive to them. With their wealth of second and third-round picks, it also gives us the ability to select quite a number of players otherwise out of our reach, even assuming slides of a couple spots.
Why not New England? I gave a lot of thought to that, naturally, as they're in the same position as the Chargers of having lots of picks and thus the firepower to make some moves. But trading with the Hooded One makes me nervous, as Belichick has an uncanny ability to always come out ahead on these things. Plus, I just plain liked the deal I worked out with SD better than anything I came up with for NE.
So without further ado...
Cowboys 9th, 71st, and 140th (1621 points) for Chargers 18th, 50th, 82d, and 89th (1625 points)
Ever so slightly in our favor, but I feel 4 points is reasonable. That's what happens when you trade up.
1.18 - Tyron Smith, OT, USC
A pick that BigDinLA is sure to love, Tyron Smith needs no introduction thanks to ChiaCrack churning out player profiles like the energizer bunny. I've pretty much had him in the same tier as Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod for months, but word of his weight gain means he's now my first choice out of those three. He's 20 years old and an athletic freak, and combined with Doug Free would make for a pair of bookend tackles more or less unequaled in the league. Both have that ability to get into the second level and start throwing blocks as Felix and Choice spring downfield. Between the two of them, we'd pretty much be set here for the next decade.
Of course, if he blows up at the combine, there's a chance he won't be here, and there is talk of a tackle run starting in the first round that will exhaust all the best candidates long before the second round. My hope is that here at 18 we'll be the ones to start that run, but if not, as I have said before we'd almost certainly be able to grab Sherrod or Carimi here.
2.40 - Stefan Wisniewski, C/G, Penn State
Speaking of that tackle run, it combined with the rise of players like Phil Taylor and everybody's favorite Canadian Danny Watkins means that, while we may miss out on those two, we do get another excellent player in Stefan Wisniewski of Penn State. He certainly looks like a football player, and gives us a second day-one starter on the right side of the line. Moreover, Wisniewski also becomes the guy to replace Andre Gurode in a year or two, by which time Phil Costa and hopefully another prospect we draft in the future will be able to take over for him and Kyle Kosier at guard.
2.50 - DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson
We all know that our single biggest weakness in this debacle of a season, even more so than the Oline, was our secondary, and poor safety play was the main culprit for it. Alan Ball was mediocre at best, and while Sensabaugh perhaps took more blame than is really due (he did lead the team in INTs, after all), there is at least a 50/50 chance he's gone next year and could be upgraded regardless. Rahim Moore will be gone by now, but concerns about his speed means DeAndre McDaniel should be here at 50. Their loss - the guy has an amazing instinct for the ball. Even better, he's physical, and can slip blocks and make solid tackles in space. That's pretty much the perfect safety for Rob Ryan.
We opt for another trade down here, this time with Atlanta. We drop eight spots from 82 to 89 and pick up another fourth, swapping sixth rounders to make up the change.
Cowboys 82 and 171 (204 points) for Falcons 91, 123, and 187 (202.6 points)
3.89 - Ahmad Black, S, Florida
Keeping it in the secondary for the second straight pick, Ahmad Black replaces the other half of our dismal tandem. A bit undersized, but he plays larger than he is and has passion and a nose for the football to go with it. Between him and McDaniel, we've now got two playmakers in the defensive backfield, plus hopefully AOA as he continues to develop. That more than anything, including Rob Ryan's schemes and the calls for Campo's firing, will help out our CBs and get them back to their 2009 form (except Scandrick - I'd prefer if he kept up his performance from the JG side of 2010, thank you very much).
Black and McDaniel are both listed as SS, but they are both capable of playing at either of the safety positions (not that there is, in truth, a ton of difference between them anymore - in today's league, both safeties have to be able to cover, make plays on the ball, and tackle). Of the two, I'd probably pencil in McDaniel as the FS starter.
3.91 - Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, LSU
As has been discussed, we're very thin at linebacker, and if Keith Brooking is released and Sean Lee starts as expected, we'll literally have nobody behind him and Bradie James and will be in serious trouble if either goes down (and Sean Lee has had problems staying healthy). That's a bad situation all around. Enter Kelvin Sheppard. He's been a great player for LSU, and it seems fitting to get Bradie James' replacement from his alma mater. He's an athlete, pure and simple, and by all accounts a vocal on-the-field leader.
4.109 - Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Going back to the secondary once more, because you can never have too many good cornerbacks, especially with the looks the Ryans are known to run with - anybody remember how brother Rex had 11 defensive backs activated for the playoff game against the Patriots?
In keeping with a bit of theme we've got going here, Ras-I Dowling is another physical DB who knows how to tackle and has good ball skills. Dowling gives us that fourth CB we've been missing and also has a bit of potential at FS, so he's yet another guy Rob Ryan can play mix and match with.
4.123 - Lawrence Guy, DE, Arizona State
Props to Chia for turning me on to him by including him in his latest mock draft (his latest when I was writing this, anyways - odds are he'll have put up another three by the time I'm done), as I went and did some reading up on him afterwards. He's got the size to be a five-technique in a 3-4, is flexible, explosive, and has that non-stop motor that is always coveted in a player. Bunting speaks of his upside and how he keeps flying under the radar - this would be a pick of great value this far down, and adds depth to an area I've otherwise been ignoring for this mock.
6.187 - Cecil Shorts, WR, Mount Union
Was watching Sportscenter the other day, and Mel Kiper actually had him as the fifth-best wideout in the whole of the draft. Now, Kiper's an idiot, but I likewise did some more reading on him, and Bunting seems to think quite highly of his physical abilities, even if he does have quite a learning curve. He's got the speed and hands you want out of a slot guy and the tools necessary to become a productive third reciever in the NFL, and with us he'll have the advantage of Miles, Dez, and Witten being such a pain in the ass for defenses it creates all sorts of opportunities for him to slip into the open. Another factor here, even though it really shouldn't be, is the success of fellow Mount Union alum Pierre Garcon for the Colts.
7.209 - Alex Henery, K, Nebraska
Henery is just an excellent kicker. There's not a whole lot more than that that needs to be said - I'm tired of the kicking carousel we seem to go on every season, and while I would like to keep Buehler on for his touchbacks and how he sticks his nose in to make tackles on KOs, Henery will give us phenomenal accuracy for years to come. He also does punts, so should another freak accident (a la 2008) befall our resident punting stud in Mat McBriar, he'll fill in admirably.
No trades this time, just picking straight up from our spots, taking both BPA and need into account. Gonna try and be brief with these.
1.9 - Robert Quinn, OLB, North Carolina
Dude's a beast, full stop. Gives us an excellent book-end rusher to D-Ware, and with Rat coming up the middle our DEs might be tripping over the offensive lineman as those three fight to get to the QB first.
2.40 - Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
We're fortunate here, with Danny Watkins still being on the board at 40. We immediately hand the card to the Commish and never look back.
3.71 - Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida
Staying in the trenches, Gilbert has stepped up his game in 2010. While not really suited to playing left tackle, that's okay, because we're looking for a right tackle, and his abilities in the run game certainly warrants him a spot there. Can't possibly be any worse than Marc Colombo, in any event.
4.109 - Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virgina Tech
Headed into the secondary now, Carmichael is a solid pick here in the fourth, with good balls skills and explosiveness. Will make a good nickel back.
5.140 - John Moffit, G, Nebraska
Adding yet more depth into the offensive line, Moffit is an absolute steal here in the fifth. At this point, once you take into account Phil Costa being behind Gurode, we're pretty much set along the offensive line for at least the next five years.
6.171 - Alex Wujciak, ILB, Maryland
Getting that depth needed behind Bradie James and Sean Lee that I spoke of earlier, Wujciak certainly looks the part of a linebacker. Big, physical guy that fits the bruiser 3-4 ILB role behind Bradie James, with Sean Lee being the more finesse guy.
7.209 - Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon
Having covered other options here before and in the past, such Henery and Aldrick Robinson, I'll go with Jeff Maehl here. He isn't the most athletic guy by any stretch of the imagination, but he is a player, no doubt, and knows how to create seperation and play the role of a slot receiver. Also has potential on special teams, which is always a plus, especially with Sam Hurds status being up in the air.